Mathias Kouo-Doumbe netted his second goal in three games to send MK Dons to a 1-0 victory at AFC Bournemouth and strengthen their npower League 1 play-off ambitions.
The defender, who regained his starting berth due to the suspension of Gary MacKenzie two weeks ago, bagged the decisive goal in the 32nd minute when he was left unmarked in the box to send Dean Bowditch's corner beyond Cherries goalie Darryl Flahavan.
Bournemouth have ambitions of their own to join the Dons in the play-off places and spent big in the January window to further bolster their squad and the addition of Matt Tubbs in particular was expected to assist the Cherries in their bid.
However, Bournemouth's recent form has sent them falling from the chasing play-off pack while the Dons extended their cushion in the top six to ten points and stayed within seven points of second-placed Sheffield United, who return to action in the Sheffield derby on Sunday.
The Dons were forced into two changes with Tom Flanagan and Jay O'Shea starting in place of Stephen Gleeson (suspended) and Darren Potter (illness).
The new additions meant a reshuffle with Shaun Williams moving into midfield alongside Alan Smith while Flanagan partnered Mathias Kouo-Doumbe in defence.
The Dons, basking in the sunshine, started brightly with Dean Lewington putting the Cherries defence under pressure with a free-kick which was dealt with well by Stephane Zubar, before O'Shea found space wandering into the centre of the box and fired a low shot wide of the post.
However, David Martin was the first goalkeeper called into action when Scott Malone slid the ball through to Matt Tubbs who forces a stop from the goalie before the Dons defence cleared up the loose ball to deny Wes Thomas the chance to finish the move.
The opening quarter of an hour had the makings of a good game with both sides showing glimpses of good play in an end-to-end contest. The Dons were able to sting the finger tips of Cherries keeper Darryl Flahavan when Williams sent a direct free-kick over the wall and straight into his arms.
When a pass from Smith was picked up by Charlie Daniels on the left wing the Dons looked to be in a bit of trouble as he shared a one-two with Malone - who licked a fantastic ball over the head of Tavernier - to release Bournemouth to attack at will. As the cross was powered into the Dons' box Dons skipper Dean Lewington did well to shepherd the ball to Martin ahead of Tubbs.
Bournemouth were lively, they piled forward with pace so when Tavernier was fouled on the right touchline it presented the Dons with a chance to slow the game down and have their only opportunity at goal.
Williams' free-kick was misplayed by Zubar which allowed Kouo-Doumbe to pick up the ball unnoticed at the far post, his cross was fizzed in yet MacDonald was unable to steer the ball home.
The match was finely poised with both attacking styles creating an entertaining game for any neutrals to enjoy. When Tubbs picked up the ball in the middle of the pitch the former Crawley Town striker showed a clean pair of heels as he raced into the Dons' box only to drill a shot wide.
The breakthrough came in the 32nd minute when a Bowditch corner was flicked on my Flanagan and his centreback partner Kouo-Doumbe was in the right place at the right time and the defender, unmarked at the right of the box, dug out a shot into the top of the net.
Bournemouth should have responded minutes later when the Dons' defence was dragged out of position, but when the ball was cut back to Malone the winger blazed over from 12-yards.
As half-time approached the Dons were in the wars when MacDonald collided with keeper Flahavan and an awkward landing left him needing treatment and then Smith was caught in a tangle with Daniels and had to temporarily leave the pitch to have the blood on his head cleared up.
After the fast-paced nature of the first half the opening phases of the second failed to produce the same excitement, although Bournemouth were still hungry to find their way back to level terms and almost did just that when Donal McDermott's ball into the path of Tubbs was fired inches past Martin's post.
The Dons had a great opportunity to extend their lead when Bowditch pounced on a Bournemouth mistake and with the home side committing men forward he spotted the run of MacDonald and played long diagonal cross into his path. The Dons striker used his strength to get the better of McDermott, but failed to prevent his shot from rising and watched as his effort agonisingly hit the roof of the net.
MacDonald's hunt for a return to goal scoring form will continue at Hartlepool next week as, shortly after his chance, he was replaced by Jabo Ibehre.
As both sides made a number of changes the play became interrupted with little flow to proceedings. The Dons were showing their professionalism as they looked to grind out the win by limited Bournemouth's chances and hitting the home side on the counter-attack.
When Bowditch stole possession on the left of midfield it seemed certain that the Dons would force another shot, however, Zubar made the perfect run to cut out Luke Chadwick's cross to deny Ibehre a chance at goal.
The Cherries had a glorious opportunity to take a point from the game in the 90th minute when the movement of Wes Thomas caught the Dons out and the striker beat Flanagan before getting the better of Martin, yet with the goal at his mercy turned his shot wide. As the ball disappeared past the post so too did Bournemouth's chance of earning a draw and the Dons were sent back to MK with all three points in the bag.
AFC Bournemouth: Flahavan,W Thomas, Daniels, Malne, Zubar, S MacDonald. Arter, Francis, Tubbs (Stockley 71), McDermott (Fogden 64).
Subs not used: D Thomas, Cooper, Gregory.
Booked: McDermott, W Thomas
MK Dons (4-2-3-1): Martin; Tavernier, Flanagan, Kouo-Doumbe, Lewington (c); Smith, Williams; Powell, Bowditch, O'Shea (Chadwick 70); MacDonald (Ibehre 63).
Subs not used: McLoughlin, Chicksen , Williams.
Goal: Kouo-Doumbe 32
Referee: Darren Deadman
Attendance: 6,419 (391 away)